Yesterday’s news that surfaced about Iowa running back Marcus Coker asking for and being granted his release has made a big impact around Hawkeye Nation.
Many fans are calling this a disturbing trend. That is five big-name running backs — Coker, Adam Robinson, Jewel Hampton, Brandon Wegher and Mika’il McCall — in three seasons that have left campus either on their own or because they were kicked off.
With so much uncertainty at running back next season and not a ton of confidence in the players returning, let’s look at the recruiting trail and see if we can find the next Shonn Greene or Fred Russell or even Marcus Coker.
The returners are all very young — DeAndre Johnson, Jordan Canzeri and Damon Bullock all will be sophomores next year. Brad Rogers could play tailback, but my guess is Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz will keep him at fullback because he made a big impact there this season.
The Hawkeyes have already gotten a big commitment from four-star prospect Greg Garmon. Garmon could be the next Greene or Coker as he is currently 6-foot-2 and weighs around 200 pounds in high school.
Garmon chose Iowa over several big-time programs including Ohio Stae, Michigan, Miami and Florida State among others. He is another Erie, Pennsylvania, kid and Iowa has a track record of producing talented players from that area — see Bob Sanders and Ed Hinkel.
Another recruit that is still undecided is four-star prospect Albert Reid of Washington, D.C. and Edison-Friendship Public Charter School.
Reid is 5-foot-10, 195 pounds and is ranked No. 28 by scout.com. He has been offered by Stanford, Cincinnati, Colorado and West Virginia but, according to scout.com, is down to three schools — Iowa, Maryland and Vanderbilt. However, he has yet to pick an offer from Maryland.
Reid has visited all three schools in successive weekends in December. He started with Vanderbilt on December 2, then headed to Maryland on December 9 and then headed east to Iowa on December 16.
Another prospect is three-star running back Akeel Lynch, who has a soft verbal to Boston College, but could change his mind after what happened with Coker yesterday.
Lynch is ranked No. 41 by scout.com and is 6-foot-1, 205-pound tailback, another Greene and Coker build that has seen succes in the Iowa system.
Lynch hails from Athol Springs, New York, and attends St. Francis High School. He reportedly runs the 40-yard dash in 4.47. Lynch visited Iowa City back on Decembre 9 and no other visits have been reported.
Other offers on the table have been issued by Penn State, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Duke, Buffalo and Akron.
The final option for Iowa could be three-star tailback and No. 90 ranked Dami Ayoola out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He attends St. Thomas Aquinas, which has one of the top high school football programs in the nation.
Ayoola is not ranked as high as the other three mentioned above but he may have better offers, which include Auburn, Boston College, Cincinnati, Illinois, Duke, Memphis, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Rutgers, South Florida, Central Florida, Wake Forest, West Virginia and two-time defending Big Ten champion Wisconsin.
Iowa fans can look at the running backs situation positively or negatively. And they will.
The negative part of the equation is the program continues to lose great running backs to either stupidity or by their choice.
The positive part of the equation is that the recruiting has been good enough the past four years to think that it is possible to find a replacement rather easy.
Hopefully, the disturbing trend that has currently surfaced in Iowa City is just an abberaton of a few consecutive bad apples.
One thing is for sure. Every single running back that has come to Iowa City has been given a fair chance to compete for playing time, and each one of the players who have left the program — either by their choice or the coaches’ choice — has done something to affect their situation in a negative way.
Garmon committed to Iowa right after McCall announced he was leaving town. Which one of the above players will decide to do the same thing after hearing that Coker is the next one out of the door.
Next. Man. In.